Review: Donkey Kong 64

Review: Donkey Kong 64

A HITN Review. It’s finally here! Find out why DK 64 is one of Rareware’s most hated N64 games- and why it doesn’t deserve nearly half the flak it gets!


Year: 1999

Played on: N64

Also on: Virtual Console

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Nintendo




Date posted: March 14, 2018






Rareware, of course, is remembered fondly for it’s N64 offerings. You have great games I’ve mentioned before, like Banjo Kazooie, the raunchy but hilarious Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and the somewhat underrated gem of destruction, Blast Corps. And that’s to just name a few! Killer Instinct Gold, Jet Force Gemini, Diddy Kong Racing- the list goes on and on! It’s seems their track record on the N64 was perfect. However, something has gone wrong. Changed.

Here is where I divert a bit. Remember Goldeneye? Of course you do- you probably spent hours playing multiplayer with friends, getting mad at someone for using Oddjob, or using throwing knives only, implementing the cornucopia of cheats to add to the fun. It was a great game. For the time. Now and days, people like to call it out- talking about how horribly it aged, and how “unplayable” it is. A once great game (and still great, in my opinion), now being criticized merely due to the passage of time.

So what does this have to do with today’s subject- Donkey Kong 64? It’s simple, really. DK 64 used to be considered one of the greats. Back when it was released, it garnered 8’s and 9’s from everyone, it seemed. However, like Goldeneye, the passage of time ravaged this- people began to see the flaws, and turn their back from it. Many years passed, and the unthinkable happened.

Donkey Kong 64 became the most hated game that Rare created for the system, and even was blamed for killing the 3D platformer genre for years to come.

So what happened? Why did this game come to be considered one of the worst games that Rare ever made? Does it really deserve that dishonorable title? Sit back and relax as I try to explain how Donkey Kong 64 became one of the most hated titles on the N64- and watch as I try and explain why it does not deserve such an infamous title of “The game that killed the collect-a-thon”!

First, some history. Coming off a incredibly successful trilogy, the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES sold gangbusters. It was a huge hit for Nintendo, and fans clamored for more. The series lay dormant for three years after DKC 3 before a new game was finally announced. Donkey Kong 64 would be released worldwide on 1999- and like I said, it received praise from many outlets- a solid 3d platformer. But then the years would go by. People would play it.. and criticize it. And criticize. And criticize. Then everyone finally got together and decided. DK 64 was no good. Don’t worry- I’ll explain everything in due time…


First and foremost, DK64 holds up visually well, for the most part. That expansion pak really did wonders for the game- everything looks great, especially the environments. Somehow, Rare made the environments look almost pre-rendered, with some good texture work and lighting. To me, it’s one of the better looking games on the system by far, with great effects like underwater ambiance and swinging lights in caverns that still look great today!

I think the visuals hold up quite well, given the fact that the game is almost 20 years old!

The gameplay of DK64 holds up well- despite what most people say about it now and days. It’s not perfect, as we’ll find out (See CONS section), but I think people overblow the “too many collectibles!” aspect of it. First off, the controls are great- each of the five playable characters- Donkey, Diddy, Tiny, Lanky, and Chunky- all have different moves and powers, giving the game a metric ton of variety. For example, DK can enter a barrel to become invincible, Diddy can use his jetpack to fly around the level, Tiny can become- well, tiny, letting here explore new areas, and so on. Using the powers of the kong family, you can fully explore each of the huge levels within the game.

Can’t believe I almost forgot the bosses! There’re great!

Lets talk about the levels- they are massive, and there’s a good variety to explore in each new location! Jungle Japes has a system of caves, for example, that lead to an rainy area where you can find Rambi. One of my favorite levels, Frantic Factory, has eerie hallways leading to all sorts of places, including a towering production room with all sorts of platforms and machinery. There’s also a huge water level that has many depths to explore, with sunken ships, and a lighthouse! Let’s not forget the hub world of Donkey Kong island, which has secrets of it’s own, and you can even board King K. Rules ship, complete with it’s on dreary atmosphere.There’s always something to explore here, so grab a monkey and go!

The music for the levels themselves are also good. Grant Kirkthorpe did a great job with the soundtrack- in fact, I find myself humming various level themes from it without realizing it- especially Gloomy Galleon’s theme. It’s just so well done. I’d talk about the DK rap, but well… you know… eh. Just listen to it…


So I made the game out to be pretty good, right? How did this game become “Hated in The Nation?” Well, there are a few factors, which I will get to right now. Great timing, huh?

So the biggest complaint, by and large, was the collectibles. Everyone and their mother seemed to think that there’s was far too many of them! Over 200 Golden Bananas, 40 banana medals (15 of which are needed to beat the game), 8 boss keys, 2 special coins,10 battle crowns (4 needed to beat the game), 40 blueprints, 948 banana coins, and a staggering 3500 colored bananas in the game! To be fair, not every collectible has to be obtained to beat the game, or even 100% it- for example, you only need to collect 75 bananas with each kong in each level to get a medal, and only 4 crowns are needed to face King K. Rool. However, that is a lot of things to collect. Personally, I didn’t think it was that bad myself- what I thought was DK 64’s Achilles heel was it’s character switching.

I almost forgot to talk about how much I hated some of these mini-games! I think everyone can agree that Beaver Bother f@#king sucks!

You see, all the collectibles are all over the place- some of them, in places Kongs don’t need to be! For example, I remembered seeing collectibles for Lanky in a place where only Tiny needs to be- so you have to go back to the tag barrel to switch to him, collect the stuff, and do some objectives with him. However, you then see collectibles for yet another kong, and at times, it can drive you up a wall. But I did it- I actually 101% the game! And you know what? I enjoyed it! Still, the character switching is still a big flaw, but not one so big that it condemns the whole game, I think!

Next, is the requirement of the Expansion Pack, which came with new copies of the game. That’s right- unlike every game that used the Expansion Pack, whether it be for better graphics or framerate- DK 64 required the EP to run! Why? Because of bug that Rare just did not have time to fix- causing them to pack in an EP with every fresh copy of the game. This sucks if you have just a basic jumper pack, as an EP goes for $30-$40 a pop now and days! Thanks, rabid Nintendo fanboys!

Now I have to mention the DK Rap. It’s simple- you either love or hate it. I personally think it’s cheesy, but fine- it introduces the charcters and is good, cringy fun. However, there are people who absoulutly loathe this song, and even consider it to be one of the worst pieces of music in video game history. Decide for yourself!

Finally, I want to talk about the thing that really damns this game’s reputation in today’s viral world.


That’s right- the memes created by this game, whether it be HE or the DK rap, and of course EXPAND DONG have made this game a laughing stock. I see memes plastered everywhere still- it can drive a man to kill! You force something, and people will eventually begin to hate it. I think this might actually why a lot of people don’t like DK64 anymore. Not the collectibles. Not the switching. IT WAS HIM! IT WAS HIM ALONG!

Behold- the man who sold the world.

I could go on. I could talk about how Hat in Time developer pinned the death of the genre on it. I could show you Snoman’s video on why the game is horribly designed, or the reviews that rip the game to shreds. Instead, I’m just going to recommend you play the game yourself and ignore everyone else’s opinion. That what I’m doing, and look where it got me!

(Camera pulls out from me standing alone in a dark void, while “Hurt” by Johnny Cash plays)


Donkey Kong 64 is not a bad game, but it does have flaws- flaws that drive some insane, while others, like me, found a way to manage. If you’re up to collect a ton of s@#t, while experiencing some cool levels with great music and Rare’s usual since of humor, then this game might be top banana!


Sorry. I’ll delete my blog now.

But real talk, DK 64 doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets, but be warned- I don’t think it’s for everyone. You can find it on the Wii U Virtual Console, and copies go for about $20 now- just make sure you have and Expansion Pack – and some patience.

I was going to put “Still better then Yooka-Laylee!” here but then I remembered that YL wasn’t that bad either. Can’t all these 3D platformers get along?



Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!

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